Brushes With the Law Raise Suicide Risk, Study
MONDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- People who have dealings with
the criminal justice system are at increased risk for suicide, even
if they have never been found guilty or spent time in prison, a new
Researchers looked at 18,063 men and 9,156 women in Denmark who
died of suicide between 1981 and 2006 and compared them to a
control group of 524,899 people in the general population.
The study found that 34.8 percent of men who committed suicide
had a criminal justice history, compared with 24.6 percent of men
in the control group. Among women, 12.8 percent of those who
committed suicide had exposure to the justice system, compared with
5.1 percent of those in the control group.
Suicide risk was highest among people who had spent time in
prison, and suicide was most strongly associated with sentencing to
psychiatric treatment and with conditional withdrawal of charges
(similar to suspended sentences).
The study appears in the Feb. 7 online issue and the June print
issue of the
Archives of General Psychiatry.
It also found that suicide risk was especially high among people
with a criminal history who were younger, who had been charged for
violent offenses, and who had recent or repeated contact with the
criminal justice system.
"We believe that our findings of rising suicide risk with increasing recency and frequency of contact point toward a strong independent effect of criminal justice history," wrote Roger T. Webb, of the University of Manchester in England, and colleagues in a news release from the puiblisher. "Thus, exposure to the criminal justice system in itself may contribute to elevating a person's suicide risk, rather than simply reflecting the traits and characteristics of people who come into contact with the system."
The findings indicate the need for more far-reaching suicide
prevention strategies, they concluded.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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